What exactly does "pitch and toss" mean in the poem "If" (stanza 3)?

2 Answers | Add Yours

literaturenerd's profile pic

literaturenerd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

There is no hidden meaning in the phrase "pitch and toss" found in Rudyard Kipling's poem "If."

Pitch and toss is a game which was begun in the United Kingdom. It is played all over the world.

The game (also known as Pitching Pennies, Pitchy, or Jingles) is simple. Players all face a wall with different denominations of coins. Each player takes their turn tossing their coin at the wall. The person who is able to land their coin closest to the wall (face up) wins all of the money thrown in the round. Another way to play is for all players to place a bet (put money into a pile) and then toss for the pile. The person closest to the wall with a coin face up wins the entire pot.

The use of this game in Kipling's poem refers to the fact that one must be able to play without having a feeling of loss to be successful.

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breath a word about your loss;

According to eNotes summary on stanza three, the game illustrates the fact that a person must regard wins and losses as not being something permanent in life.

We’ve answered 318,957 questions. We can answer yours, too.

Ask a question